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Encyclopedia > Ilan Stavans
Ilan Stavans

Ilan Stavans (born Ilan Stavchansky on April 7, 1961, in Mexico City) is an American intellectual, essayist, lexicographer, cultural commentator, translator, short-story author, TV personality, teacher, and man of letters known for his insights into American, Hispanic, and Jewish cultures. Image File history File links Ilan_Stavans_Photo. ... Image File history File links Ilan_Stavans_Photo. ... April 7 is the 97th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (98th in leap years). ... 1961 (MCMLXI) was a common year starting on Sunday (the link is to a full 1961 calendar). ... Nickname: Location of Mexico City in central Mexico Coordinates: , Country Mexico Federal entity Federal District Boroughs The 16 delegaciones Founded (as Tenochtitlan) c. ... An essayist is an author who writes compositions which can be about any particular subject. ... A lexicographer is a person devoted to the study of lexicography, especially an author of a dictionary. ... A cultural critic is a critic of a given culture, usually as a whole and typically on a radical basis. ... Look up Translator in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... The short story is a literary genre. ... A celebrity is a person who is widely recognized in a society. ... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ... An intellectual is a person who uses his or her intellect to study, reflect, and speculate on a variety of different ideas. ...



Ilan Stavans was born in Mexico to a Jewish family from the Pale of Settlement, lived in Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East, and ultimately immigrated to the United States in 1985. Upon completing his graduate education in New York City, he settled in New England where he lives with his wife, Alison, and his two sons, Joshua and Isaiah. His journey is the topic of his autobiography On Borrowed Words: A Memoir of Language (2001). He received a Master’s degree from the Jewish Theological Seminary and a Doctorate in Letters from Columbia University. He was the host of the syndicated PBS show Conversations with Ilan Stavans, which ran from 2001 to 2006. For other uses, see Jew (disambiguation). ... The Pale of Settlement (Russian: Черта оседлости - cherta osedlosti) was a western border region of Imperial Russia in which permanent residence of Jews was allowed, extending from the pale or demarcation line, to near the border with eastern/central Europe. ... World map showing the location of Europe. ... Latin America consists of the countries of South America and some of North America (including Central America and some the islands of the Caribbean) whose inhabitants mostly speak Romance languages, although Native American languages are also spoken. ... A map showing countries commonly considered to be part of the Middle East The Middle East is a region comprising the lands around the southern and eastern parts of the Mediterranean Sea, a territory that extends from the eastern Mediterranean Sea to the Persian Gulf. ... New York, New York and NYC redirect here. ... This article is about the region in the United States of America. ... Cover of the first English edition of 1793 of Benjamin Franklins autobiography. ... The Jewish Theological Seminary of America The Jewish Theological Seminary of America, known in the Jewish community simply as JTS, is the academic and spiritual center of Conservative Judaism, and is the movements main rabbinical seminary. ... Columbia University is a private research university in the United States. ... Not to be confused with Public Broadcasting Services in Malta. ...

He is best known for his investigations on language and culture. His love for lexicography is evident in Dictionary Days: A Defining Passion (2005). Lexicography is either of two things Practical lexicography is the art or craft of writing dictionaries. ...

Stavans's work is wide-ranging, and includes both scholarly monographs such as The Hispanic Condition (1995) and comic strips in the case of Latino USA: A Cartoon History (with Lalo Alcaraz) (2000). Stavans is editor of several anthologies including The Oxford Book of Jewish Stories (1998). A selection of his work appeared in 2000 under the title The Essential Ilan Stavans. In 2004, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Pablo Neruda’s birth, Stavans edited the 1,000-page-long The Poetry of Pablo Neruda. The same year he edited the 3-volume set of Isaac Bashevis Singer: Collected Stories for the Library of America. Biography Lalo Alcaraz is a Mexican-American cartoonist best known for his comic stip La Cucaracha. ... Pablo Neruda (July 12, 1904 – September 23, 1973) was the penname of the Chilean writer and communist politician Ricardo Eliecer Neftalí Reyes Basoalto. ... Volumes in the Library of America series The Library of America (LoA) is a nonprofit publisher of classic American literature. ...

He has also displayed a strong interest in popular culture. Among other topics, he has written influential essays on the Mexican comedian, Mario Moreno ("Cantinflas")," the lampooner José Guadalupe Posada, the Chicano leader César Chávez, and the Tejana singer Selena, as well as a book about the board game Lotería! (with Teresa Villegas), which includes Stavans’s own poems. He was also featured in one of the Smithsonian Q&A books. Mario Moreno Reyes (August 12, 1911 – April 20, 1993) was a comedian of the Mexican theatre and film industry. ... Posada in front of his workshop Calavera Oaxaqueña, 1910 José Guadalupe Posada (2 February 1852 – 20 January 1913) was a Mexican engraver and illustrator. ... Chicano teenager in El Pasos second ward. ... César Estrada Chávez (March 31, 1927 – April 23, 1993) was a Mexican American (Chicano) farm worker, labor leader, and civil rights activist who co-founded the National Farm Workers Association, which later became the United Farm Workers. ... A Tejano (Spanish for Texan; archaic spelling texano) is a person of Hispanic descent born and living in the U.S. state of Texas. ... Selena Quintanilla-Pérez (April 16, 1971 – March 31, 1995), best known as Selena, was a Mexican American singer who has been called the queen of Tejano music.[2] The youngest child of a Mexican-American couple, Selena released her first album at the age of twelve. ...

Since 1993 he has been on the faculty at Amherst College, Massachusetts, where he is the Lewis-Sebring Professor in Latin American and Latino Culture. He has also taught a various other institutions, including Columbia University. In 1997, Stavans was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and has been the recipient of international prizes and honors, including the Latino Literature Prize, Chile’s Presidential Medal, and the Rubén Darío Distinction. Amherst College is a private, independent, elite[1][2] liberal arts college in Amherst, Massachusetts, USA. It is the third oldest college in Massachusetts. ... Columbia University is a private research university in the United States. ... Guggenheim Fellowships are awarded annually by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation to those who have demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts. ...


He has portrayed Jewish-American identity as Eurocentric and parochial. He has been a critic of the nostalgia generated by life in the Eastern European shtetl of the 19th century. He is recognized for his explorations of Jewish culture in the Hispanic world. In 1994 he published the anthology Tropical Synagogues: Stories by Jewish-Latin American Writers (1994). From 1997 to 2005 he edited the Jewish Latin America series at the University of New Mexico Press. And his anthology The Schocken Book of Modern Sephardic Literature (2005) was the recipient of the National Jewish Book Award. Some of his essays on Jewish topics are included in The Inveterate Dreamer. His work has been translated into a dozen languages. Eurocentrism is the practice, conscious or otherwise, of placing emphasis on European (and, generally, Western) concerns, culture and values at the expense of those of other cultures. ... A shtetl (Yiddish: , diminutive form of Yiddish shtot שטאָט, town, pronounced very similarly to the South German diminutiveStädtle, little town) was typically a small town with a large Jewish population in pre-Holocaust Central and Eastern Europe. ... Secular Jewish culture embraces several related phenomena; above all, it is the culture of secular communities of Jewish people, but it can also include the cultural contributions of individuals who identify as secular Jews, or even those of religious Jews working in cultural areas not generally considered to be connected... The University of New Mexico Press, founded in 1929, is a university press that is part of the University of New Mexico. ...

His inspirations range from Jorge Luis Borges to Edmund Wilson and Walter Benjamin. (In his autobiography, Stavans recounts the episode, in the early stages of his career, when, in order to find his own style, he burned his collection of dozens of Borges’s books[citation needed].) He has written a small biography of the Chicano lawyer Oscar "Zeta" Acosta and a book-long meditation on Octavio Paz. In 2005, in a series of interviews with Neal Sokol called Ilan Stavans: Eight Conversations, Stavans traces his beginnings, calls Hispanic civilization to task for its allergy to constructive self-criticism, discusses the work of Borges, Franz Kafka, Isaac Babel, Sholem Aleichem, Gabriel García Márquez, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Octavio Paz, Samuel Johnson, Edward Said, Miguel de Cervantes, and others, and reflects on anti-Semitism and anti-Hispanism. Jorge Luis Borges (August 24, 1899 – June 14, 1986) was an Argentine writer who is considered one of the foremost literary figures of the 20th century. ... Edmund Wilson (May 8, 1895 – June 12, 1972) was an American writer, noted chiefly for his literary criticism. ... Walter Bendix Schönflies Benjamin (July 15, 1892 – September 27, 1940) was a German Marxist literary critic, essayist, translator, and philosopher. ... Chicano teenager in El Pasos second ward. ... Octavio Paz, Mexican writer, poet, diplomat, and 1990 Nobel Prize winner for literature Octavio Paz Lozano (March 31, 1914 – April 19, 1998) was a Mexican writer, poet, and diplomat, and the winner of the 1990 Nobel Prize in Literature. ... Kafka at the age of five Franz Kafka (IPA: ) (July 3, 1883 – June 3, 1924) was one of the major German-language fiction writers of the 20th century. ... Isaac Emmanuilovich Babel, Russian: Исаак Эммануилович Бабель (13 July [O.S. 1 July] 1894 – January 27, 1940) was a Soviet journalist, playwright, and short story writer. ... Sholom Aleichem Sholom (Sholem) Aleichem (February 18 (O.S.) = March 2 (N.S.), 1859 - May 13, 1916) was a popular humorist and author of Yiddish literature, including novels, short stories, and plays. ... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Octavio Paz, Mexican writer, poet, diplomat, and 1990 Nobel Prize winner for literature Octavio Paz Lozano (March 31, 1914 – April 19, 1998) was a Mexican writer, poet, and diplomat, and the winner of the 1990 Nobel Prize in Literature. ... For other persons named Samuel Johnson, see Samuel Johnson (disambiguation). ... Edward Wadie Saïd (Arabic: , transliteration: ; 1 November 1935 – 25 September 2003) was a Palestinian-American literary theorist and outspoken Palestinian activist. ... Don Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (IPA: in modern Spanish; September 29, 1547 – April 23, 1616) was a Spanish novelist, poet, and playwright. ... The Eternal Jew: 1937 German poster. ...


Stavans’s short stories are included in The One-Handed Pianist (1996) and The Disappearance (2006). One of them, "Morirse está en hebreo" ("To die is in Hebrew"), about Jewish life in Mexico at the time of the 2000 presidential election, which appeared in the latter anthology, was turned into a movie directed by Alejandro Springall. His themes range from redemption and revenge to cultural authenticity and political activism. In "A Heaven Without Crows," he imagines Kafka's final letter to Max Brod, suggesting that maybe he shouldn't burn his œuvre. "The One-Handed Pianist" deals with a rare disease affecting a piano concert player, impeding her the use of one hand. In "Xerox Man," written for the BBC, about an Orthodox Jewish thief of rare books, Stavans meditates on imperfection. And in "The Disappearance," about the kidnapping of a famous Jewish stage actor in the Low Countries, Stavans explores the perils of silence. Max Brod Max Brod (May 27, 1884 – December 20, 1968) was a German-speaking Jewish author, composer, and journalist. ... The British Broadcasting Corporation, which is usually known as the BBC, is the largest broadcasting corporation in the world in terms of audience numbers, employing 26,000 staff in the United Kingdom alone and with a budget of more than GB£4 billion. ... The Low Countries, the historical region of de Nederlanden, are the countries (see Country) on low-lying land around the delta of the Rhine, Scheldt, and Meuse (Maas) rivers. ...

Cultural Studies

He has been criticized by some Chicanos, Puerto Ricans, and other Latinos who have attempted to discredit him for writing on Hispanic culture while being Jewish and Caucasian[citation needed]. His views on language are polemical in their approach to word and structure formation. Stavans believes that dictionaries and language academies are buffers whose improbable function is to provide continuity for a language, but suggests that such continuity, especially in the age of electronic communication, is fatuous. He accuses the Royal Academy of the Spanish Language in Madrid of colonialism, among other things. He has also studied the Iberian conquest of the Americas in the 16th century from a linguistic perspective. Translation, for Stavans, represents appropriation. He defined modernity as “a translated way of life” and has written and lectured on the role translators perform as communicating vessels across epochs and habitats. Latino refers to people living in the US of Latin American nationality and their US-born descendants. ... The 4th edition of Meyers Konversationslexikon (1885-1890) shows the Caucasian race (in blue) as comprising Aryans, Semites and Hamites. The Caucasian race (sometimes called the Caucasoid race) is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as, relating to a broad division of humankind covering peoples from Europe, the Middle East... The dictionary is a list of words with their definitions, a list of characters with their glyphs, or a list of words with corresponding words in other languages. ... The Real Academia Española (Spanish for Royal Spanish Academy, RAE) is the institution responsible for regulating the Spanish language. ... Motto: (Spanish for From Madrid to Heaven) Location Coordinates: , Country Spain Autonomous Community Comunidad Autónoma de Madrid Province Madrid Administrative Divisions 21 Neighborhoods 127 Founded 9th century Government  - Mayor Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón Jimémez (PP) Area  - Land 607 km² (234. ... It has been suggested that Benign colonialism be merged into this article or section. ... Look up translate in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Cultural appropriation is the adoption of some specific elements of one culture by a different cultural group. ... Modernity is a term used to describe the condition of being modern. Since the term modern is used to describe a wide range of periods, modernity must be understood in its context. ...


Complete book-length original works

  • 2007 - Love and Language (with Verónica Albin).
  • 2006 - The Disappearance: A Novella and Stories.
  • 2005 - Dictionary Days: A Defining Passion.
  • 2005 - Conversations with Ilan Stavans (with Neal Sokol).
  • 2003 - Lotería!, art by Teresa Villegas, essay and riddles by Ilan Stavans.
  • 2003 - Spanglish: The Making of a New American Language.
  • 2001 - On Borrowed Words: A Memoir of Language.
  • 2001 - Octavio Paz: A Meditation.
  • 2001 - The Inveterate Dreamer: Essays and Conversations on Jewish Literature.
  • 2000 - The Essential Ilan Stavans.
  • 2000 - Latino U.S.A.: A Cartoon History, illustrations by Lalo López Alcaraz.
  • 1998 - The Riddle of Cantinflas: Essays on Popular Hispanic Culture.
  • 1996 - Art and Anger: Essays on Politics and the Imagination.
  • 1996 - The One-Handed Pianist and Other Stories.
  • 1995 - Bandido. Oscar 'Zeta' Acosta and the Chicano Experience.
  • 1995 - The Hispanic Condition: Reflections on Culture and Identity in America.
  • 1993 - Imagining Columbus: The Literary Voyage.

Edited works

  • 2006 - Lengua Fresca, co-edited by Ilan Stavans and Harold Augenbraum.
  • 2005 - Rubén Darío: Selected Writings, edited and with an introduction by Ilan Stavans.
  • 2005 - Encyclopedia Latina, edited by Ilan Stavans (four vols.).
  • 2005 - The Schocken Book of Modern Sephardic Literature, edited by Ilan Stavans.
  • 2004 - Isaac Bashevis Singer: Collected Stories, edited by Ilan Stavans (3 vols.).
  • 2003 - The Poetry of Pablo Neruda, edited by Ilan Stavans.
  • 2002 - The Scroll and the Cross: 1,000 Years of Jewish-Hispanic Literature, edited by Ilan Stavans.
  • 2001 - Wachale! Poetry and Prose on Growing Up Latino, edited by Ilan Stavans.
  • 1999 - Mutual Impressions: Writers of the Americas Reading One Another, edited by Ilan Stavans.
  • 1998 - The Oxford Book of Jewish Stories, edited by Ilan Stavans.
  • 1997 - The Oxford Book of Latin American Essays, edited by Ilan Stavans.
  • 1994 - Tropical Synagogues. Short Stories by Jewish-Latin American Writers, edited by Ilan Stavans.
  • 1993 - Growing up Latino: Memoirs and Stories, co-edited by Ilan Stavans and Harold Augenbraum.

Critical Bibliography

Sokol, Neal (2004) Ilan Stavans: Eight Conversations


Conversations with Ilan Stavans (PBS, La Plaza)


Morirse está en hebreo (2006) Directed by Alejandro Springall.

External Llinks

  Results from FactBites:
village voice > arts > Education Supplement Spring 2005 by Christine Lagorio (1111 words)
Ilan Stavans defines these words and scores more in his latest work, and doesn't dance around terms such as cocksucker or shy away from telling readers how many times he's looked up dictionary.
Stavans is deeply concerned with the stagnancy of lexicons such as the Oxford English Dictionary or Webster's due to the manners linguists insist on.
And Stavans is one of a small group of U.S. scholars introducing street speak to the ivory tower and arguing that language is not being destroyed, but rather, words that die are replaced by new ones.
  More results at FactBites »



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